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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Moving Past Adversities: #4 It's a thin line between and hate (Good days & Bad Days)

We're human. Some weeks are good and the some weeks, not so good (some times we even have bad, angry, hateful weeks). I have to remind myself constantly this is normal and part of the design of Allah for all mankind because it is He that decreed for us all to have emotions (yep, even men too). Problem is that lately, a weird trajectory among Muslim women has been promoted to "ice out" and kill off emotions. It's like we no longer even feel the need to listen to our fellow family or friends' issues. We just block out any emotionally heavy discussions in an attempt to stay away from taxing our brains. I think part of the reasons that we as sisters have become so aloof to others is because we are dealing (often alone as well) with our own layers of issues...

The Messenger of Allah (saw) also said, "The believers, in their love, mutual kindness, and close ties, are like one body; when any part complains, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever." [Muslim]

Breaking the norm with my real issues: This is the end of very blessed, busy, silly, angry week and I'm grateful for all it. I was able to accomplish a couple of things on my to-do lists like finally sorting, washing, packing up and taking the kids old clothes and shoes over to the Goodwill and Savers, going to the library, and finally creating an outline for my new curriculum. But fasting the day Ashura with my daughter was the highlight of the week, Alhamduleelah. I also dealt with some challenges as well. My 1 year old son regressing in the weaning process, my youngest daughter ran out of her vitamins and behaved extremely difficult with everyone all week, and my oldest daughter is in the midst of full blown puberty and has an excuse for every single thing she does or does not do... the good first.

On yaumul ashura I got up and went for a walk in the cold morning air and that really helped me find some balance. The down side was that because I was fasting my energy level was shot for the remainder of the day. My poor daughter Juwayriyah was touched by the sleepies. She couldn't keep her eyes open to do her school work and her poor belly kept growling. With a lot of redirection, encouragement, and dua  - she finished the day. I was proud of her.

I'm really mad that some of you with adult daughters didn't warn earlier. Those pre-teen hormones are such a bummer. They have zapped out just about all of the sweetness, easiness and playfulness from the little girl that I have grown to love about her in the last 11 years. I try not to focus on her moodiness right now and focus more on how I respond to her. She is still mine even when she is acting like Oscar the Grouch and she is still a slave of Allah with rights over me. Like the old adage goes: if you point one finger at someone else, three of your own fingers are always going to be pointing back at you. As hard as it can be to admit it, Juwayriyah is partly a reflection of me. If I want to battle her and win, I have battle my own nafs and win over it first. As mothers of pre-teens and teens, we have to constantly find more ways to remain patient, more appreciative verbally with these developing young people. And lastly, be humble with them and ourselves. It wasn't too long ago that I myself was a teen and I remember how challenging it was for my Umm and Abu to have to deal with two teenage girls at once. And indeed Allah is quick to call people into account (Surah Ali Imran:19)

One thing I can say is that as she grows, it is such a blessing to be able to talk with her about Islam and share with her acts of ibadah that have real meaning and struggle for her. I'm not always sure that  she is fully cognizant of the  importance of ibadah at12. But what I have learned from my own life growing up as a Muslimah in the West is that, just like a flower, our deen grows with dua, love, patience and persistence. Islam is a process that we must journey on, through big and small trials and big and small victories, until we take our last breath, enshallah. So she is where she is and Alhamduleelah, it is wonderful to be able to share whatever I can with her.

Work wasn't as challenging, but something is always changing there. With Thanksgiving around the way, I had to start a history unit on Native Americans and curate some videos that actually gave an authentic account of details of the 1600s with my pre-GED students. I also had to turn in some grades, test some of my students who won't be coming back after the break, and make some tweaks to my monthly lesson plan due to a couple of students just not progressing as I would've liked them to. Revision is necessary and so is that thing called patience, once again. Though, I totally hate that public education has become so test centered. However, assessment is always necessary and it does let me know how I need to differentiate what I am doing in the classroom.

Enter my darkness with caution:

So in the midst of everything else this week my two youngest had doctor appointments (and next week too). Honestly,  I totally dislike (read:hate)  taking them to their well check visits. I know their pediatrician senses that because she is always extra nice, mashallah. But some of the required stuff she wastes her time (and mine as well) running down, I am not interested in. My two youngest children are un-vaccinated and so really that well-child visit should only last about 15 minutes, but it doesn't. She drags it out for more  than 40 minutes and then spends the very lasts minutes trying to squeeze in her same lame attempts to "enlighten" me about some new research on vaccinations. I know it's her job, and wallah, I am very cordial, but after five years, it's enough! It just irks my nerves. It especially irks my nerves when  it's accompanied by fake sympathy: "understand you're worried about your daughter's health." Do you really? Every time a doctor says that to me, I cringe. Unless you have a child with epilepsy, global delays, and Autism: you have no idea the massive extent of my worries, problems, sleeplessness, anger, pain, and confusion. And since I have the ability to do my own research and more importantly speak with other parents raising children like my own, it's best not to be patronizing.

There's a thin line between Love & Hate
Getting my youngest daughter to cooperate at doctor visits is another reason why I prefer for the visits to be short. It's like she knows her pediatrician, but she doesn't really know her that well. We spend a lot more time in her neurologist and psychologist's offices. Some times she acts completely shot out. This time she had tantrums that included falling on the ground, refusing to be examined with any weird looking medical instruments, bolting out of the room, and aggressive behaviors like pinching and screaming when the nurses attempted to redirect her behavior all the while I tried to intervene with a one year tied to my hip. It was physically tasking, emotionally draining, and I hated every second of it.

But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not. (Surah al Baqarah: 216)

Yeah, so it was just one of those weeks where I experienced  love and it was sweet, memorable, and inspiring. And also I encountered that emotional monster called hate. And it was sobering, troublesome, and memorable as well. Often times we as women get so busy doing something/everything for everybody else, that we forget to feel something/ anything for ourselves. We lock down our emotions out of fear of the reality: our world is not static. Love is a great feeling, but hate is just  as powerful an emotion and in order to truly be appreciative of one or the other, you have to experience them both.

 Point #1 Don't deny your feelings,( they'll overpower you sooner or later) 
Point #2 Be honest and open at least with yourself  (even better to find others to share your days with)
Point#3  Perfection was not decreed for us, so don't be hard on yourself or feel guilty when you have bad days
Point #4 Relish your good days, remember them and the Most Merciful's mercy in granting them to you

All right so here are 4 of my Simple Common Sense  (SCS) tips for this week:

#1 It's a thin line between love and hate, so be among the patient: As Muslim mothers, wives, sisters - women in general, a lot of the very people that provide us with our greatest loves can also be the root cause of us experiencing heartache, pain, and hate. That shouldn't prevent us from keeping our duty to Allah or them. So give your best, have patience, and know that Allah's promises are true:

إنما يوفى الصابرون أجرهم بغير حساب

“…Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account.” [az-Zumar 39:10].
Sulayman ibn Qasim said that:
The reward of every deed is known, except for the reward for patience, which will be like the heavy rain. 

#2 Give yourself a break (Your body has a right over you):  No matter how great of a wife, mother, student, friend etc. that you assume you are, everyone needs a break! The more you push your body to perform for others, through the good and bad days, the more essential it is for you to take time outs. Take 30 minutes a week or if you have reliable support, a whole day to yourself. Go for a walk, go to a coffee shop and sip on well made cup of java that you didn't have to make, go to Targets or the mall if that is your thing, or get a hand or foot massage - alone. Whatever it is that you enjoy and that makes you feel relaxed, do it and learn (again) to hear your own thoughts.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately. . .Always adopt a middle, moderate, regular course, whereby you will reach your target (of paradise)." - Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Hadith 470 
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once asked a companion: "(Is it true) that you fast all day and stand in prayer all night?" The companion replied that the report was indeed true. The Prophet then said: "Do not do that! Observe the fast sometimes and also leave (it) at other times. Stand up for prayer at night and also sleep at night. Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you." - Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Hadith 127 

#3 Ask for help regularly: If you thought you could do it all, know today that you can't. Hit the delete button and remove that heavily polluted thought out of your mind. Whether you are dealing with a child with special needs or not, life simply requires support. And if we are truly honest with ourselves, it is only arrogance that makes us feel "some kind of way" about seeking help from others. But in reality when we as women lack support and help, this is what can make our bad days turn into ugly days real quick. 

"The servants of the Merciful are those who walk on the earth in humility." (25:63)

Another good that about asking for help from others is that it will strengthen the bonds of sisterhood between us. We may not know that our sisters are experiencing hardships, but when they tell us, don't turn away from the ni'mah that Allah is placing in front of you. 

Narrated 'Abdullah bin Umar: Allah's Apostle said, "A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection. "  (Bukhari)

#4 And this too shall pass (So remember Allah): Trials are from Allah, so we can't escape them. But we can choose how we deal with it. The better you get on handling issues, the easier it will become to navigate your way out from it.  

"For indeed, with hardship (will be) ease. Indeed, with hardship ( will be) ease. Surah ash Sharh: 5-6

 And the Prophet (saaws) said: “How wonderful is the case of the believer; there is good in everything and this is not the case with anyone except a believer. If good attends him, he expresses gratitude to Allah and that is good for him; and if adversity befalls him he endures it patiently and that is better for him” [ Narrated by Abu Yahya Suhaib ibn Sinan and recorded in Sahih Muslim]

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